Before Martin Smith entered the world of higher education admissions, he thought he wanted to work in politics.
Fresh out of college in 1993, the Otterbein College political science major went to work for the majority whip in the Ohio Legislature. But when the 1994 elections brought a sweeping national victory to the opposing party, Smith headed back to his Westerville, Ohio, alma mater where there was an opening for an admissions counselor.
“It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with what I was doing,” said Smith, the University of New Orleans’ new assistant provost for admissions and enrollment management. “This is one of those things in life that you do that you know every day when you go to work and you go home, you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”
Smith joins UNO from Saint Leo University in Florida, where he worked both as an instructor and as an assistant vice president for enrollment in the Office of Enrollment Services. Since 2010, he has balanced teaching online business courses at St. Leo with consulting for Ruffalo Noel Levitz and, more recently, Hobsons, working with higher education institutions to achieve their enrollment goals.
Smith, who started at UNO on Dec. 5, said he became interested in working at UNO after speaking with new President John Nicklow, who has made a priority of increasing student enrollment through strategic recruitment and retention efforts.
“The more I talked to the president, the more excited I got about the opportunity here,” Smith said. “You can sense his excitement, his commitment, his vision.”
Smith said UNO already has so many of the key components needed to make gains, including strong academics, affordability, great people and a popular locale. He said the University is already working to do a better job of strategically communicating with prospective students, turning them, he said, “from someone who doesn’t know UNO to someone who knows UNO and wants to apply to UNO.”
Nicklow said Smith brings a strong sense of best practices and innovative strategies in enrollment management to the job. He also liked Smith’s experience working with one of the nation’s leaders in enrollment management consulting and with a private university.
“I am particularly impressed,” Nicklow said, “with his data-driven focus and his ability to dissect recruitment and retention issues and develop a series of goals and strategies that work together to create a comprehensive enrollment management approach … His background demonstrates to me that he has a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape of student enrollment and the need to evolve to stay ahead of the competition.”
Smith, whose office is at the Privateer Enrollment Center in Earl K. Long Library, will work closely with the 50-person Office of Enrollment Services and especially with eight admissions counselors. He said his experience on campus so far has made it clear that there is a widespread understanding across all departments that everyone has a role to play in helping students find their place at UNO.
“We all recruit students,” Smith said. “We all retain students. Every person is a part of that.”